My mom was the writer extraordinaire. She was the master of the thoughtful note writing each by hand in her beautiful Palmer penmanship. She was way ahead of the texting trend sending notes to anyone she’d be thinking of. When I was little, she’d send one of us down the block to deliver a get-well note to an ailing friend and she always had a pile of letters ready for my dad to mail on his way to work.
My mom had five kids and after leaving home each of us received her letters making us feel as if we were her only child.
When I was in college, I’d receive an encouraging note in the mail along with a five or twenty dollar bill. This was a practice she kept up long after we were “self sufficient”, working and married. Birthday cards were sent with cash and throughout the year we’d receive news articles with notes next to them saying things like, “I thought of you,” or “something to think about?” Regardless of the content, she ALWAYS wrote a long note about the birds she was feeding or the party she and my dad hosted.
Little notes to stay in touch and let us know she was thinking of us.
Christmas time was busy for her and she’d start her annual holiday cards early. She insisted on personalizing each one, writing something special and we were taught to NEVER just sign a Christmas card. “That’s so impersonal.” Hundreds would go out a year and not a one, not even for the postal carrier, was sent with less than two paragraphs of her hand-written word.
My mom showed affection with more than her words. She loved a house full of kids and she’d welcome anyone who happened to be over. Our kitchen and dining room were in constant use and I can still see my mom boiling pots of water for pasta and making meatballs for armies of kids. There were always friends over and lots of live music coming from our basement, garage or sun room. My mom would try to teach us how to harmonize and somehow she could convince even the shyest guest to belt out Sinatra or a Beatles tune.
I can still remember my father’s face when he was at my oldest brother’s 50th birthday party. My mom had died a few years earlier and one of my brother’s friends came up to my dad and said, “Mr. Caprio, I just want to thank you for letting me live in your basement that summer.” My dad looked at me, shook his head and asked, “Who was that kid and when did he live in our basement?”
My mom couldn’t turn her back on anyone or anything. She took in every stray cat or dog we’d find walking home, and although my dad was not a fan of pets, he tolerated them. She was a Registered Nurse and was always getting called to check on a sick kid or to administer a neighbor’s medicine. She was the first to volunteer for the PTA luncheon or help the school band with a charity event. She loved puns and admired anyone with a great sense of humor. To her, “a good sense of humor shows true intelligence because you have to be smart to be funny.” She was fascinated by knowledge and read thousands of books. As she got older, her biggest nuisance were her reading glasses that were always lost and rarely where she put them last.
Two weeks before my mom died, she and I discussed whether or not she’d be able to “communicate” with me after death. Like me, my mom was fascinated with ghosts but she hesitated when I asked her if she’d “contact” me. She said, “Oh honey, I wouldn’t want to scare you.” – “You wouldn’t scare me mom,” I said, “but I hope you wouldn’t show up in a mirror or float around my room.” We both laughed and suddenly the realization of what was happening began to sink in. My mom was dying and just the thought of it made me frantic. How was I going to go on without her?
My youngest daughter was only six months old when my mom died and I’m sad my girls never got to know her. She was funny, witty and fashionable but mostly she was the kindest person I’ve ever known. She put everyone else ahead of herself and she would have sacrificed anything for her kids.
It’s been almost 21 years since my mom died and not one day has passed that I don’t think of her. I’ll hear a song she’d sing with my dad or a pun I know she’d laugh at and I know she’s still here with me. And that’s just the thing…a mom’s love is forever and I’m grateful for having such an amazing one.
My mom would hate the small screen on a cell phone “I can’t see it…” and the tiny buttons used to write her notes but I think she’d be thrilled with the ease of sending her support and staying connected to the ones she loved…but that screen… I can hear her now….”I just wish I could see it!”
RIP sweet mama! You were the very best a kid could wish for.
– Germaine Caprio, MAJAMAS EARTH Company Owner & Designer